Our newest installment for the 'Future of Finance' series finds us at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. There we spoke with senior student Elena Painter who is majoring in finance and minoring in economics. Elena talked to us about a number of things including her experience at W&M, both of her internship opportunities, and what she has planned once she graduates here in May. Here's the interview:
What influenced you to pursue a career in Finance?
When I first came to William & Mary, I thought I would be a Government or Public Policy major. My whole plan changed when I took my first economics course, and I realized I wanted to enter the business world. I love to analyze problems and I tend to work well under pressure, so I thought finance would be a good fit for me. I like that Finance is grounded in numbers, but there is room for interpretation. Two people could analyze the same issue in entirely different ways.
Why should other students consider a focus in Finance?
Finance is great platform on which to build a career. There are a wealth of career opportunities for students with Finance backgrounds. Finance also teaches analytical skills that are transferable to other industries. Students learn to make decisions with limited visibility and be comfortable with ambiguity.
What has been your experience with the Finance program at your school?
I've have a phenomenal experience with the Finance program at my school. I had the opportunity to serve as the President of our Finance Academy, which connects students and professionals in the financial services industry. The highlight of my Finance experience has been informal mentoring by older students and graduates. They coached me through interviews, introduced to people in their networks, and gave me the confidence to succeed. It never ceases to amaze me how dedicated our alumni are. To have an alumni pick up the phone at 2 am and walk me through a valuation is above and beyond what I could have expected. I have met alumni for lunch and dinner everywhere from Richmond to New York to San Francisco.
Have you participated in any internships, and if so, how many and how were they?
Over the summer of my sophomore year, I interned with IBM in their Corporate Finance division. I levered this internship to find my junior year internship in the Investment Bank at Goldman Sachs. Both were great opportunities that allowed me to learn a lot in a short period of time.
Please share an interesting or little-known fact you've learned about the world of Finance…
Not a fact, but a piece of advice that was given to me but an older student when I was searching for my first internship. Finding an internship is not a batting average. It doesn't matter if you mess up the first 1, 2, or 10 opportunities as long as you keep working and find the right one eventually.
What are your future aspirations and career plans?
I will be returning to Goldman Sachs full-time after graduation in the Technology Media and Telecom group.